Catholic Bishops Urge Ugandans to Recognise God in their Neigbours during Christmas
The Uganda Episcopal Conference has called upon all Ugandans to recognise God in their neighbours if Christmas celebrations are to leave a lasting spiritual impact on their lives.
bishops made their appeal in a Christmas message released at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat, Nsambya- in Kampala. The message was released by the Chairman of the Conference Rt. Rev. Joseph Antony Zziwa who is also the Ordinary of Kiyinda-Mityana diocese.
“God’s special presence in our midst is an invitation to live worthily of His love.
This call to love and serve means, at personal level, responding to the needs of others, especially the hungry, the naked, the prisoner, the sick and the homeless.
Christmas is one of those moments in our Christian life when we are called and reminded of our duty to recognize God in our neighbours and to refrain from acts that may injure their dignity and undermine the image of God in them.”
Bishop Zziwa further highlighted the ills affecting the country, thus undermining the image of God in which humans are created. He singled out acts like hatred and enmity, violence of any form, selfishness and greed, grabbing people’s land and property.
As a country, the bishop said that the citizens and those in authority have to protect the poor and vulnerable and to promote the common good.
“In the present circumstances, we are compelled to listen to the cries of those who are hurt by the acts of violence and injustice. These include corruption, land-grabbing, domestic violence, crime and the widening gap between the poor and the rich.
There are other challenges like poverty and unemployment, food insecurity and environmental degradation.”
Uganda, like the rest of the world, is celebrating the first Christmas after the Covid-19 pandemic which turned the world upside down. Unfortunately this was followed by the economic turbulence which has led to the skyrocketing of prices.
In 2021 Uganda held the general elections which could pass as the most bloody in the country’s history. In November, over fifty people were shot dead in cold blood by security agencies. Hundreds of others were arrested and held in detention without trial.
Presently security agents are abducting people from the Opposition parties especially the National Unity Platform. Many have been severely tortured and thus permanently maimed. Hundreds more are not accounted for and have not been brought to trial.
“In the spirit of Christmas, we appeal to government to account for the missing persons and ensure that all security organisations do their work within the confines of the law. We also appeal to political actors and other stakeholders to cooperate and work together to deal with the root causes of some of these challenges.”
For the last two months, until December 17, 2022 the districts of Kassanda and Mubende have been under lock down due to the Ebola outbreak. The Conference thanked the people “for the patience, cooperation and endurance during that period.”
“We particularly condole with the families that lost loved ones. Our mind is also drawn to the pains and suffering of our brothers and sisters who had been affected by Ebola and urge that people do not stigmatize the victims of Ebola.”
On the entrenched poverty, the Conference observed that some people might not even be able to find something to eat. But that those who will be able to feast, are tormented by the idea of not being able to take their children back to school next year.
“The craving for money and wealth has driven many Ugandans to extreme immoral behavior, such as theft of public resources, cheating of all sorts, violent crime, and trafficking in persons and human organs. During this season, God is calling us to change our ways so that His son Jesus Christ may dwell in us.”
During the lockdown emergency, people were advised to pray and flow Mass on radio, television and other media. Although the lockdown has been lifted, many people are yet to return to Church. Bishop Zziwa urged parents and guardians to return to Church and actively participate in Holy Mass and Services led by Catechists and other Church representatives.
“We encourage the parents to take their children to Church to thank God for the benefits they have received during the year 2022 and ask for protection for the coming year 2023. We should remember the teaching of Jesus: Let the little children come to me… for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
Let us allow the children to grow, like Jesus, in stature, wisdom, favour of the Lord and man.”
With a lot of movements and the urge to make an extra income during the festive season, many people are losing lives in accidents which could otherwise be avoided. This is a combination of excitement, recklessness and selfishness.
“We encourage all Ugandans and people of good will to keep the message of the Gospel alive so that those who do not believe in Christ will know that we are His followers.”